Most legislators will tell you that a hand written letter will gain the most attention but in this day of word processors, hand written letters seems to be a lost art form. A printed letter that has been mailed will receive attention also. Often, time does not permit the delay of “snail” mail and an email is the best option. Some staff will read them but most will discard any that are from outside their district.
A few rules of thumb for writing to a legislator.
- Be Respectful, Use proper titles; i.e. Honorable Senator or Congressman
- Be Brief. Give the who, what and why. No more than a single page.
- Be Positive. Try to couch your comments in a positive light. Talk about what you love. Regardless of how upset you might over an issue, avoid all comments that project anger, i.e. “Just wait until election – you better start looking for a new line of work come November.”
- Be Grateful. Even if you think that they will not support your position, thank them for their service. (A subtle and positive way of reminding them that they serve at the consent of the governed.)
- Be Complete. Give your name, address, w/zip code and other contact information in case their office wants to follow up with you.
The Honorable (Phineas T. Foghorn)
Missouri Senate (or House of Representatives)
Jefferson City, Mo. 65101
Dear Senator (Congressman) Foghorn,
I can only imagine the mountain of work that We the People are asking you to consider at this time. I salute you and thanks you for your efforts to make Missouri strong.
Please find time in your very busy schedule to support (Bill No.___). I believe that this bill is vital to the future of our state if we are to make Missouri the safest place to live, raise a family and start a business or relocate an industry. We must be (Give supporting rationales)
Thank you for your service and thank you for your consideration. You are in our prayers.
John Q. Citizen, for the Anytown Tea Party (your affiliation, if any)
123 Big Road
Anytown, MO. 65555
The direct phone call to a legislators office needs to be brief and not chatty. The office staff are usually extremely busy. Rules of thumb:
- Identify yourself. Give name and location in the legislators district.
- Be pleasant and respectful
- Be Brief. Quickly give the reason for your call
“Hello, I am John. Q. Citizen from Anytown, Mo. and I want to encourage Senator/Congressman Foghorn to support Bill #123. This will mean so much to our state, etc. Thank you. Good Day”
Letter To The Editor:
Your hometown news paper will welcome letters that offer opinions on timely topics. They also have guidelines and will reject letters that fail to meet those guidelines. Among these guidelines: (From a home-town paper)
- We reject any letter that, in our judgment is libelous or defamatory.
- We reject any letter that, in our judgment, is mean-spirited. Criticism should focus on issues, not people. We will print a letter that contends a proposal is stupid or rotten, but not one that contends a person is stupid or rotten.
- We reject anonymous letters. If you don’t sign it, we won’t print it.
- We reject most letters from writers who live outside our distribution area. Some exceptions are letters on topics of interest to Missourians and letters that comment on previous letters or editorials.
- We require a letter to include the name, address and telephone number of the writer. We will publish the writer’s name and city. We do not publish the telephone number. It is used for routine verification of letters. We will not print a letter for which the author cannot be verified.
- Letters should be confined to a single topic and not to exceed 300 words.
- We will edit letters when necessary.
- All letters of endorsement for candidates will be published as Paid Election Letters, and are subject to a fee of …… for up to 300 words. Deadline for submission of Paid Election Letters is …….prior to election day. (Check with your local paper for specifics.)